The three-man delegation from the International Rowing Federation (FISA) and the African Rowing Federation (FASA) that was in Botswana says the country can host a successful rowing competition.
The delegation, which came here for a three-day inspection to see whether the country can host rowing, should it be awarded the host status of the 2nd Africa Youth Games, say they were impressed by the games’ designated venue, the Gaborone Dam.
Faysal Soula, who is a member of both FISA and FASA, said that the facility is even better than the one in Morocco where the first Africa Youth Games were held.
Speaking in an interview, Soula said the dam has a good enough stretch and is wide enough to host a successful rowing competition. According to the FASA official, this is even made better by the fact that the water in the dam is still, something which he says can make for a very good competition.
“Another thing is that this venue is above 1000 meters at sea level, something which can make it a good training camp,” Soula added.
He noted that should Botswana be awarded the host nation status, something which he said is highly possible at the moment, both FISA and FASA will assist the country in any way possible to establish the sport of rowing here.
He said hosting the games will give Botswana an opportunity to develop the sport of rowing in the country as both FISA and FASA have development programmes that can provide necessary technical assistance to help push the country forward.
“FISA and FASA will support Botswana for a long time if they are to establish rowing in the country. This help will include providing the country with boats and coaches as well as providing coaching courses and training camps for athletes,” Soula added.
He said both federations can also push for South Africa, which already has a rowing federation, to help Botswana. Asked whether Botswana can have a team ready to compete at the Africa Youth Games, considering that there are only 22 months left before the games begin, Soula says he is of the belief that the country can have athletes competing by the time.
“It all depends on the encouragement and support that the athletes will have. In countries like Cameroon where there was good support and encouragement, the sport has grown tremendously,” Soula said.
Despite the optimism that the country can have a team competing, Soula says building a good enough team to compete at the highest level takes time.
“With a good talent identification and training, it takes four to five years to have a very good team to compete at the highest level,” Soula said.
He added that for the country to be successful, it will have to start targeting young athletes with swimming ability to take up the sport. Asked what the good age will be for youngsters to start rowing, he said the ideal age will be between the ages of twelve and fourteen.
“Rowing is a very physical sport and it needs people with strong backs and cannot be recommended for athletes below the ages of twelve,” he said. Meanwhile, the Chief Executive Officer of the Botswana National Council (BNOC), Tuelo Serufho, said the BNOC’s intention is to have registered a rowing federation sometimes next month. He said they are currently engaging with the Yacht Association of Botswana to see whether they cannot incorporate rowing into their association.
Speaking in an interview, Serufho said both the local yacht association and the BNOC will be meeting in a very short time to map a way forward.
“We were just waiting for a response and some clarifications from FISA and FASA and since they have already answered us, we will now start talking,” the BNOC CEO said.
Botswana is expected to know whether she will be awarded the go ahead to host the 2nd Africa Youth Games sometime in August.